USO and Coronavirus/COVID-19
Check this page for updates about the USO and Coronavirus/COVID-19
Updates from USO Leadership
USO Update as of August 3, 2020
USO’s Employee Assistance Program, Morneau Shepell/LifeWorks offers confidential, 24-hour, seven day a week, free online and virtual support services and resources.
USO Update as of July 27, 2020 Wellness & Resilience Resources
Here are some fitness videos provided by USO Guam:
Here are some self-care resources from USO Japan:
Free Homeschooling and Virtual Learning Resources:
- Check out Homeschooling Tips and Resources
- The National Head Start Association has ideas for learning at home.
- THRIVE provides free online parenting support. It comes from the Department of Defense and the Clearinghouse for Military Family Readiness at Penn State. The new program helps with raising children 0-18. Download the PDF resources.
USO Update as of July 20, 2020
Employee Wellness Resources
USO’s Employee Assistance Program, Morneau Shepell/LifeWorks offers confidential, 24-hour, seven day a week, free online and virtual support services and resources. Their offerings include a wide variety of articles, webinars, and other materials on topics related to stress management, teleworking, K-12 school search, fitness programs, financial calculators and other quality of life matters.
You can find a toolkit of COVID-19 related resources here.
You can access Morneau Shepell/LifeWorks online resources here. Note: Username and password are “uso” (lowercase)
To help us take care of our mental, physical, social and financial well-being during this time, Morneau Shepell/LifeWorks has launched a series of Well-being Wednesday Facebook Live sessions. Each session focuses on a different type of Well-Being, led by an expert in the field. Covering topics like resiliency, coping, social technology, saving and spending tips and homework, you don’t want to miss a week. Follow the Morneau Sheppell/LifeWorks Facebook page to get live session notifications.
USO Update as of June 29, 2020
The CDC has released updated personal and social activities guidelines. Please view today’s statement here.
USO Update as of June 9, 2020
In an effort to provide the most up-to-date and reliable information regarding business travel, Adelman Travel has developed an overview of what to expect the next time you travel. Topics include air travel, hotels, car rental and other transportation.
Here is an informative reference guide for wellness and safety as you navigate the changing world of travel. Please take a few minutes to review before booking our next trip.
USO Update as of May 18, 2020
Dear USO colleagues,
Since the first days after the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, you - our USO employees around the globe - have been combating the spread while safely fulfilling our mission to strengthen and connect our service members and their families.
You have worked tirelessly to find new ways to get the job done. In many ways, the work - and the work-life balance - has been even more difficult throughout this challenging time than before COVID-19.
To recognize your hard work, we are conducting a USO Stand Down on Friday, May 22. Our mission during the Stand Down will be for all of us to: rest after many challenging weeks and months, reflect on the significant impact we have made together, and recharge ourselves to continue making that impact going forward together.
If you go into work, then don’t go into work. If you work at your home office, then don’t work at home. If you need to write 10 e-mails, then don’t write those 10 e-mails. If there is a must-do program that day that you feel you need to execute, then your RP or RVP needs to approve. We strongly encourage everyone to Stand Down on Friday and take a much-needed break and come back energized. For those who absolutely must be on duty that day, please work with your managers to take another day as soon as possible to rest, reflect, and recharge.
Thank you all for what you have done and will continue to do to make the USO such a special place in the hearts and minds of our service members and their families.
J.D. Crouch II CEO & President
*Update as of April 20, 2020 *
Watch, Alan Reyes, COO Two Minute Drill for this week.
USO Update as of April 16, 2020
Dear USO Teammates,
We hope that you and your families are well. The COVID-19 virus has had a tremendous impact on all aspects of our lives, from the way we work and interact socially to our economies. In response to the crisis the Federal Government (in addition to many individual states) has enacted various employee benefits and general employment law changes. Human Resources has been keeping abreast of these changes, especially as they involve our retirement plan (RSP), health and welfare plans and employment practices, and has made adjustments to our plans and employment practices. These changes that may affect our employees are:
RETIREMENT SAVINGS PLAN RELATED CHANGES:
Loan Amount Increase – From April 20 through September 23, 2020, we increased the amount that eligible participants (defined below) can request as an RSP loan to 100% of their vested balance, with an overall limit of $100,000.
Distributions Amount Increase – From April 20 through the end of 2020, we increased the maximum amount that eligible participants can request as a withdrawal to $100,000. This type of distribution will be exempt from the IRS’s 10% early withdrawal penalty for distributions to participants who are 59 ½ or younger.
Loan Payment Suspension – Eligible participants who have a current RSP loan outstanding and are up-to-date on their repayments, may request a repayment deferral of up to 12 months. The request needs to made by the end of 2020.
Participant Help Center – Our RSP consultant, SageView Advisory Group, is offering the Participant Help Center where our RPS participants can speak to a Certified Financial Planner and receive personal, targeted, fiduciary advice on preparing for retirement and understanding your investment options, and can get answers to other retirement or savings questions. Contact the Participant Help Center or call 1-833-SAGE-411).
Eligible participants (see above) are generally defined as participants who are, or who have a spouse or dependent who is, diagnosed with a coronavirus illness, or who suffer adverse financial consequences as a result of a quarantine, furlough, layoff, reduction in work hours, business closure, lack of child care, or other factors.
The information above presents broad information only and other requirements and factors apply. Participants who have specific questions about, or personal requests for, an RSP loan, a distribution from the RSP or a loan payment suspension should contact Transamerica or call 1-800-755-5801 directly.
HEALTH & WELFARE PLAN CHANGES:
Over-the-Counter (OTC) and Menstrual Products Coverage – Retroactive to January 1, 2020, Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA) and Health Savings Accounts (HSA) will cover OTC and menstrual products. Participants may submit these items as they would any other covered expense. More information can be found on Discovery Benefit’s website.
Telehealth Services Coverage – Through June 18, UnitedHealthcare (UHC) will waive upfront collection of cost-share (deductibles, copayments and/or coinsurance) for all in-network Telehealth services, including for non-coronavirus related services. More information can be found on UHC’s COVID-19 website.
COVID-19 Testing Coverage Expansion – During the national emergency, UHCC will waive upfront collection of cost-share for all provider visits related to COVID-19 testing. More information can be found on UHC’s COVID-19 coverage and resources website.
Through May 31, Cigna will offer Cigna Dental Virtual Care, a virtual dental care option to its dental participants, so that participants (including their Cigna-covered dependents) can consult with licensed dentists via video from the safety of their own home. This could be a valuable option for those whose dentists don’t offer virtual services. For more information, please see the Cigna Dental Virtual Care flyer.
PAID SICK LEAVE AND EXPANDED FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE:
Employee Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family Medical Leave – Between April 1, 2020 through the end of 2020, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires that employers provide certain paid sick leave and extended family and medical leave. If you will be unable to work and plan to take time off for one of the reasons listed below, please notify your supervisor and Human Resources immediately so that we may advise you of the specific process, terms and pay that will apply in your situation. Human Resources will also review any local or state laws which may apply to you.
Paid Sick Leave: Under the FFCRA, USO will provide up to 80 hours of paid sick leave benefits if an employee:
- Has been ordered by the government to quarantine or isolate because of COVID-19.
- Has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19.
- Has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
- Is caring for someone who is subject to a government quarantine or isolation order or has been advised by a health care provider to quarantine or self-isolate.
- Needs to care for a son or daughter whose school or child care service is closed due to COVID-19 precautions.
- Is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the secretary of health and human services, in consultation with the secretaries of labor and treasury.
- Leave for items 4-6 is paid at two-thirds the employee’s normal pay rate.
Expanded FMLA provides employees with up to 12 weeks of job-protected leave when they can’t work—either onsite or remotely—because their minor son’s or daughter’s school or child care service is closed due to a public health emergency. The first 10 days of leave can be unpaid, or an employee can opt to substitute PTO during this time. For the other 10 weeks, employees are paid at two-thirds of their regular rate of pay, which will be capped at $200 a day (and $10,000 total). Employees who have been on the payroll for at least 30 calendar days are eligible for the emergency paid family leave benefits.
OTHER COVID-19 INFORMATION AND RESOURCES:
Federal Student Loan Payment Suspension – The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) provides economic relief to student loan borrowers by suspending payments, interest accrual and collections on overdue federal student loans through September 30. Loans for any semester interrupted by the virus are forgiven, and those loans and Pell grants don’t count against a student’s limit. Schools can continue to pay work-study students who can’t work and make other emergency grants to cover students’ virus-related expenses. CARES provides other changes to student loans and these can be found on Venable, LLP’s website and various other websites.
Employee Assistance Program (EAP) – Lifeworks, our EAP provider, offers ‘Well-Being Wednesdays’ each Wednesday in April at 11am ET on their LifeWorks Facebook page. Currently scheduled for April 15 is physical well-being; April 22 is social well-being and April 29 is financial well-being. In addition, Lifeworks has developed a few presentations that you may find useful: Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Talking To Your Child About COVID-19.
RESERVISTS CALLED UP TO ACTIVE DUTY
USO is implementing a new policy which provides a pay differential for any USO employee in the reserves called up to active duty. USO will pay the difference between the employee’s normal USO pay and his/her military pay when the normal USO pay is greater, for up to one year of cumulative active duty service within a rolling five year period.
As always, please contact Human Resources at [email protected] a with any questions. Thank you for all that you continue to do in support of our mission during these difficult times!
USO Update as of April 10, 2020
Watch this interview with USO CEO & President Dr. JD Crouch II that features USO’s Support of Service Members Engaged in COVID-19 Operations.
USO Update as of April 6, 2020 USO Regional Leaders are asked to please ensure our local teams are following the attached DOD guidance on the wear of cloth face coverings on military installations. Note that the guidance allows local commanders to make exceptions, which our local teams should also follow.
The use of cloth face coverings in lieu of N95 or other surgical-grade masks is an important distinction, given that 1) the intent of cloth coverings is to prevent the wearer from spreading the virus if he/she has it but is asymptomatic and 2) surgical-grade masks should be prioritized for medical providers. Staff should refrain from obtaining/procuring masks of this nature and instead follow recommendations on the use of common materials, such as clean cloths, that can cover the nose and mouth area.
CDC has published also published additional guidance on face coverings, including a tutorial on how to sew a face covering.
CDC Releases COVID-19 App
The White House Coronavirus Task Force and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a free app and [website](www.apple.com/covid19external) that guides Americans through a series of questions about their health and exposure to determine if they should seek care for COVID-19 symptoms. The tool provides CDC recommendations on next steps including guidance on social distancing and self-isolating, how to closely monitor symptoms, recommendations on testing, and when to contact a medical provider.
USO employee and military spouse, Erin Gaul shares some useful tips to staying resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
USO Update as of April 1, 2020
USO continues to place emphasis on employee, volunteer and service member health, safety and wellness during COVID-19 operations and service delivery. Please read Chief Operating Officer, Alan Reyes’ USO COVID-19 Operational Response Plan.
USO Update as of March 31, 2020
Watch Chief Operating Officer Alan Reyes’ Two Minute Drill update on USO operations and readiness. In this video Alan discusses USO priorities for keeping our employees, volunteers and service members safe and healthy during this critical time.
USO Updates as of March 26, 2020
Watch JD’s latest video address for employees and volunteers.
USO Updates as of March 25, 2020
USO is still on the frontlines supporting our service members and volunteers.
Read about our programs and services that are supporting our troops as they combat COVID-19. Thank you to our dedicated volunteers and employees keeping USO in the fight!
Here are some additional resources for homeschooling and other educational enrichment activities during this time.
USO Update as of Friday, March 20, 2020
Read USO President & CEO J.D. Crouch, II Statement Regarding USO Response to Coronavirus.
Watch Chief Operating Officer Alan Reyes discuss how USO employees and volunteers are supporting service members’ and their families during coronavirus.
Read stories about USO programs and services from the front lines.
Employee Assistance Program Resources
This pandemic is affecting all aspects of society, and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Our USO Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available 24/7 and offers support, guidance, and resources that can help you resolve personal issues and meet life’s challenges. USO EAP can help with counseling (virtual sessions are available), financial resources, parenting and eldercare and coping with feelings of isolation, anxiety or worry. Here’s an EAP & coronavirus toolkit. More resources will be added on a regular basis to continue to support the common areas of interest for example, working remotely, how to discuss COVID-19 with your kids, coping with financial worry and much more. Currently, two webinar sessions are available for you and your family to view at any time: Emotional Well-Being During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Talking to Your Children about COVID 19.
USO Workforce Guidance as of March 12, 2020
In an abundance of caution as the COVID-19 outbreak continues to expand, both globally and in the United States, USO is immediately implementing the following policies to operate in a contingency mode across all USO centers worldwide, including USO direct report and USO chartered centers. These measures are being implemented to ensure the safety and health of military service members, family members, USO volunteers and USO staff members and to reduce the risk of the broader spread of COVID-19 in the communities in which the USO serves. Another important goal is to continue delivering our mission and support to service members and families even in this contingency, especially as they and the military respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the fluid nature of this situation, we will revisit these operational changes on a weekly basis and keep all stakeholders informed.
USO Operations and Centers on/adjacent to Military Installations, including MEPS
USO leaders will continue to follow military installation and civic authorities’ guidance on operating centers and conducting programs and events. For example, as installations implement reduced operating hours or temporary closures of facilities and services (e.g., MWR activities), USO operations will adhere to the same changes.
USO Centers located at US Airports and Off-Installation Communities
All USO airport centers in the United States will halt their airport center services as soon as practicable with the goal of all lounges to be closed by end of the business day, Friday, March 13, 2020. Centers will remain closed until further notice. This does not include USO locations at military AMC terminals. The intent is to limit exposure of airport center guests, volunteers and staff members to COVID-19 by reducing gatherings at airport center facilities. Centers may still plan and execute programs and other mission-delivery activities that are outside of the confines of the airport center facilities.
USO Program Events and Entertainment Tours
USO Programs and USO Entertainment teams will continue to evaluate program events and entertainment tours and postpone or cancel events as needed to align with military and civic requirements to minimize public gatherings.
Both teams will seek innovative ways to deliver program content (e.g., livestreaming events) and also partner with USO regional and local teams to augment mission delivery to support military COVID-19 response activities (e.g., shipping USO2GO items to support quarantined troops).
USO, Inc. Administrative Offices Shift to Remote Work
This policy pertains to USO, Inc. employees. USO Chartered Center management are encouraged to determine the most effective means to maintain productivity of office-based staff while reducing the opportunity for COVID-19 spread.
USO, Inc. staff members who regularly work at an office location versus a mission-delivery location will begin working remotely to limit physical interaction with commuters and colleagues. Managers will plan and coordinate with their employees to start remote work as early as Wednesday, March 11, with the goal of all employees converting to remote work by Friday, March 13.
All staff members are expected to follow remote work policies to maintain regular working hours and to conduct business via email, phone, and online (cloud hosted) tools for virtual meetings and group collaboration. Office-based staff members should stay at least as accessible as they are during normal business conditions to USO colleagues, particularly for those USO colleagues working at mission-delivery locations.
For OCONUS regional and area offices that are located on military installations, Regional Vice Presidents will ensure all staff members work in the most practical and safe work environment, either remote work or in-office work, and will ensure alignment with local installation guidance.
USO will re-evaluate this posture on a weekly basis and will coordinate re-opening of office locations with respective regional leadership.
Miscellaneous Business Travel for USO, Inc. Employees
To the extent possible, any business tasks or program delivery requiring mass public transportation (e.g., air or rail travel) should be modified to be conducted remotely, postponed or cancelled.
Only mission-essential business travel that cannot be modified, postponed or cancelled will be authorized for USO, Inc. employees and must be approved by the appropriate Vice President, Regional Vice President or Regional President in writing/by email.
Working Status of USO, Inc. Employees at Temporarily Closed USO Operations
If the primary work location for an employee is closed by local military/civic authority or by USO decision, the employee will work with his or her manager to conduct USO business remotely as feasible.
If an employee impacted by a center/office closure is unable to work remotely, USO will continue to compensate the employee for the regular work schedule with full administrative leave pay. Employees unable to work due to illness should use PTO or other benefits/leave as appropriate.
The USO is grateful to all staff members and volunteers for their commitment to our mission and to our service members and their families. We are committed to your safety and health, and we look forward to returning to normal operations as soon as possible. We will continue to keep all informed via weekly email updates as we work together to manage through the COVID-19 outbreak.
Below are frequently asked questions about the coronavirus and some tips to keep you and your family healthy.
Article on Teleworking from home with children.
What are the USO’s travel recommendations and restrictions?
The U.S. Department of State and the CDC have advisories regarding travel in response to the outbreak. Additionally, USO’s current travel posture is as follows:
- The CDC has advised against all non-essential travel to South Korea, China, Italy, and Iran. The agency has warned older and at-risk travelers to avoid Japan.
- To the extent possible, any business tasks or program delivery requiring mass public transportation (e.g., air or rail travel) should be modified to be conducted remotely, postponed, or cancelled.
-Only mission-essential business travel that cannot be modified, postponed, or cancelled will be authorized for USO, Inc. employees and must be approved by the appropriate Vice President, Regional Vice President or Regional President in writing/by email.
-Mission-essential business is defined as activity that must be completed to avoid significant degradation to the USO mission, reputation, or financial position of the organization if it is postponed or cancelled. If uncertain about the impact of postponing or cancelling the travel, employees should consult their appropriate Vice President, Regional Vice President or Regional President.
- You may want to consider postponing personal travel to areas of incidence. If you do choose to travel, you should prepare for the possibility of being delayed or quarantined for at least 14 days.
- If you intend to travel, you should anticipate travel delays for airport screenings and possible flight and/or reservation cancellations from affected areas and monitor government travel notices for additional information.
- We will reevaluate travel policies as needed and as circumstances evolve.
- This website will maintain timely information regarding travel advisories and installation and USO center operations.
What is the USO’s telework policy for employees and volunteers during this time?
-Click here to view the USO Telecommuting policy.
If you are sick or if you begin to experience symptoms consistent with coronavirus, please stay home and work with your management to determine telework options if you are still well enough to work. Call your primary physician if you have concerns about your symptoms.
USO volunteers in areas affected by the virus are not expected to work their regular shifts. Please work with local USO leadership to find out specific impacts to USO operations in your area.
Given the dynamic nature of the outbreak, all USO staff and volunteers who are planning international travel are encouraged to review the CDC’s up-to-date information on travelers’ health issues.
Here’s an article on how Microsoft Teams can be used to telecommute.
Is there additional guidance for those who recently traveled to geographically affected areas?
Travelers returning to the U.S. from mainland China will be instructed about health monitoring and social distancing by the public health authority. Travelers returning from other countries identified by the CDC – Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea – within the past 14 days should review guidance for self-observation. Requesting or implementing self-isolation for asymptomatic travelers outside of the direct guidance of public health or healthcare professionals is not necessary or required.
What to do if you think you have COVID-19?
If you have traveled to an affected geographic area within the past 14 days or have been in contact with someone suspected of or confirmed to have COVID-19 and are experiencing fever, cough or trouble breathing, please contact your healthcare provider for assessment and further direction.
How to prevent the spread of germs?
Good hygiene, particularly hand hygiene, can reduce the risk of many infections, including this novel coronavirus. We are still in flu season and the following tips can help keep everyone healthy:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
- Stay home when you are sick and seek medical attention if symptoms worsen.
- Avoid close contact with those who are sick.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Cover your mouth when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect surfaces.
- Get a flu shot.
- Practice other good health habits. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids and eat nutritious food.
- Disinfect doorknobs, switches, handles, computers, telephones, bedside tables, bathroom sinks, toilets, counters, toys and other surfaces that are commonly touched around the home or workplace.
- Follow the CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
- CDC does not recommend that people who are healthy wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
- Facemasks should be used by people who are ill to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
- The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
How to prepare your household?
There are things you can do right now to be ready for any emergency, and many of these same tips will help you prepare in case this new coronavirus risk level increases in the U.S.
- Have a supply of food staples and household supplies like laundry detergent and bathroom items, and diapers if you have small children.
- Check to make sure you have at least a 30-day supply of your prescription medications, and have other health supplies on hand, including pain relievers, stomach remedies, cough and cold medicines, fluids with electrolytes, and vitamins.
- Know how your local public health agency will share information. Find more information here.
- Learn how your children’s schools plan to handle any outbreak.
- People with elderly parents or relatives should have a plan in place for caring for them if they fall ill.
- What is COVID-19 or the coronavirus?
- Coronaviruses are a group of viruses that can cause several symptoms including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. This disease caused by this novel coronavirus has been named COVID-19. The majority of people experience mild symptoms, while others have severe illnesses including reports of the virus leading to death. Patients who are older and have pre-existing medical problems appear to be at the highest risk for complications.